Vivo’s Dual Display NEX Phone; OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition; Amazon Gives Alexa Location Based Reminders & Routines; Daimler Buying $23 Billion Worth of Batteries for EVs

Vivo has come out with what they call an all-screen NEX smartphone. According to engadget.com, there’s NO selfie cam…but you won’t need one, they say. You can flip the phone around and just shoot your selfie with the pop up back cam…the back of the phone has a rear screen so you can set up your shot! The phone is called the NEX Dual Display Edition. The phone is out in China for $725 December 29th.

OnePlus has showed off a fancy new McLaren Edition 6T. The phone comes with 10 Gigs of RAM and 256 Gigs of storage, according to businessinsider.com. Part of the back is carbon fiber, and it has a beautiful but tough carbon fiber case….and of course, a racing stripe and the McLaren logo. Even with the vanity edition tweaked by the performance car maker, the phone is just $700…$300 less than an iPhone Xs…which doesn’t have that kind of memory or storage, and comes with no case at all to protect that glass back!

A major update has hit Alexa devices. Amazon has opened up new features, including location based routines and reminders, timer enhancements, app notifications, email support, and more. 9to5mac.com says the update was announced in September, but has just rolled out. An example given would be ‘Alexa, remind me to feed the dogs when I get home.’ When the Alexa device detects your phone inside the house, it will remind you. You can also program multiple routines with wait times…like turning on lights when you get up, but pausing for 20 minutes or so before switching on music or news.

Mercedes parent Daimler is going all-in on electric vehicles. The German giant is going to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 to go into Mercedes-Benz EVs and commercial trucks. The company presently has supplier deals with LG, SK Innovation, and China’s CATL. Daimler plans to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022, and a number of commercial trucks, busses, and vans, too. Battery production for the cars with all those lithium-ion cells will be in 8 factories on 3 continents.

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Driverless Waymo’s Hitting Cali Roads; Ford & VW May Share e-Platform; Apple Pulls watchOS Update; Solar Cell-Electricity & Hydrogen Simultaneously

The application went in last spring, but yesterday, Google’s Waymo got permission from California to start testing driverless cars on public roads. 9too5google.com notes that Waymo was already operating in 25 US cities, but always with a safety driver on board. Waymo will start initial testing in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto…all near the Google and Alphabet campuses. The DMV permit allows for day/night testing on city streets, rural roads, and highways with posted speed limits of 65 mph…so pretty well anywhere in the above communities and their surroundings. Perhaps Waymo should strap in a realistic dummy to make other motorists feel more comfortable!

With the move to electric vehicles, a number of auto makers are partnering with others. Toyota has hooked up with Subaru and BMW, for example, and now Ford and Volkswagen may be teaming up. Cnet.com reports that Ford and VW may share a platform for EVs. VW had previously said it might open up its MEB platform to others. Ford and VW had announced a ‘memorandum of understanding’ about possible collaboration last summer. Ford had previously announced that it would be bringing 40 EV models to market, and that it was investing some 11 billion in electrics by 2022. As long as we don’t have a Musta-Beetle or the like, all will probably be well with the EV world!

After their big show yesterday on iPads and Macs, Apple dropped iOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1. Now, according to zdnet.com, they have pulled the Watch update. It was apparently bricking the newest, greatest Watch Series 4 models. The Watches just stopped booting at the apple logo, and couldn’t be force quit or rebooted, even if unpaired from an iPhone. Many users attempted to take the devices into Apple Stores, but most were out of Series 4 models, and they are being shipped from overseas by 3 day air. Apple says it is a very small number that were affected.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a process that can turn sunlight and water into electricity AND hydrogen! Engadget.com says its an ‘artificial photosynthesis’ process, but a big step up from previous attempts…going from 6.8% to 20.2% efficient. The team is moving into experimenting with real-world applications of the tech, but both electricity and hydrogen (for fuel cells) from one source could be a giant step towards more clean energy.


Ford-Bye Gas, Hello Batteries; Samsung Giant Indian Factory; Owning Apple i Devices = Wealth

Previously, Ford had announced that, outside of the Mustang, they were ditching cars for all SUVs and trucks. Now, engadget.com reports that Ford is going all-in on electrics. They plan to have a 300 mile range Mustang inspired small SUV (code name Mach 1) on the road by 2020. They plan to have 40 electrified vehicles…16 of then EVs…..by 2022.

Samsung has opened the world’s largest mobile phone factory in India. According to Bloomberg, it will make everything from $100 cheapies to the flagship S9. Locally, most sales in India are in the $250 or less range. Last year, India passed up the US to become the 2nd largest market for smartphones after China. Cisco did a study, and sees India going from 359 million smartphones in 2018 to 780 million in 2021.

In a study by the University of Chicago, in the US ’no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone’. Businessinsider.com says the study was based on 2016 data. According to the researchers, owning an iPhone gave them a 69% chance to correctly infer that the phone owner was ‘high-income,’ which they defined as in the top 25% of income for the household type (like single adult….or couple with dependents.) For reference, back in 1992, the strongest indicator of high income households was Grey Poupon mustard!